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Tuesday, 18 October 2011 10:15

Swift reaction to the Grain Farmers' Marketing Act legislation

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The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, Bill C-18, was tabled in the House of Commons. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz introduced a Bill that would give Western Canadian wheat, durum, and barley farmers the freedom to market their grain as they choose.

“This is an exciting day for Western Canadian grain farmers,” said David Anderson, Member of Parliament (Cypress Hills-Grasslands) and Parliamentary Secretary for the Canadian Wheat Board. “Many farmers have waited decades to see this take place. This legislation will finally give Western Canadian farmers the same rights and opportunities as other Canadian farmers - the right to grow, market, and sell their own crops. We need to have this legislation passed quickly so that farmers can start making their own business decisions.”

The Canadian Wheat Board was established by Parliament in 1943 when Canada was committed to supplying inexpensive wheat to Britain during World War II. The legislation tabled today will remove the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board and give marketing choice to all farmers.

“Make no mistake - this government's actions will result in more investment and innovation in Western Canada. It will result in value added jobs and a stronger economy,” said Anderson.

Farmers will have the choice of whether to sell on an open market or through a voluntary CWB. The legislation, upon receiving Royal Assent, will allow an interim Canadian Wheat Board to act as a voluntary marketing entity, supported by the federal Government while it transitions to full private ownership. The legislation will also immediately allow farmers and companies to forward contract for the delivery of grain after August 1, 2012.

Reaction, not surprisingly has been mixed.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association were eagerly anticipating the introduction of legislation by the federal government that will give western farmers grain marketing freedom by August 2012.

“This is legislation that many of us having been waiting for,” says Kevin Bender, President of the Wheat Growers.  “We expect to see all kinds of new investment and market opportunities created for farmers once we gain our marketing freedom.”

“The CWB should not be allowed to take away our property rights,” says Cherilyn Nagel, Past President of the Wheat Growers.  “We applaud the federal government for taking this power away from the CWB and giving it back to the farmer.  Every farmer will now be able to decide whether to sell his grain on his own or in co-operation with others.”

However, the farmers of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance condemn the Harper Government’s introduction of legislation to kill the Canadian Wheat Board.

“The introduction of this legislation is built on a collection of myths by an undemocratic and bullying administration,” said Bill Gehl, chairperson of the CWBA. “Minister Ritz knows very well that farmers took him at his word on the Wheat Board issue, and he and Mr. Harper used farmers’ trust to stab us in the back.”

“Minister Ritz has moved from misleading farmers to abusing the voters of western Canada by claiming the Federal election results gave him the mandate to end the CWB.  Since farmers are only 2% of the population spread over 57 western ridings, claiming the Conservative Party has a mandate from farmers to change the Canadian Wheat Board is ridiculous and I think most urban voters agree that farmers should decide this issue, not Ottawa. The farmer plebiscite held this summer shows that nearly two thirds of farmers support our Wheat Board’s single desk marketing system and Minister Ritz has reinforced his contempt for democracy by ignoring our vote. I know the majority of farmers oppose the legislation.”

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